An Introduction to Passive House - review
Justin Bere - ‘An Introduction to Passive House’
Written by the architect Justin Bere, this introductory guide to the Passive House standard is an accessible and valuable addition to the growing content relating to construction fit for a sustainable 21st century.
The slim and well-presented volume begins with a section called ‘What is Passive House?’ which concisely explores the history and growing prevalence of the Passivhaus Standard. Bere explains that Passive House is a standard for, and advanced method of, designing buildings using building physics to ensure precision, comfort and reduced energy costs, as well as removing guesswork from the design process.
He also presents the opinion that:‘A great 21st century building is one that is beautiful to look at but that also feels good in reality when the power supplies are turned down to almost nothing … I fear that some architects give more priority to how their buildings will look in architectural magazines than to making sure that their buildings perform efficiently and comfortably for the benefit of their occupants.’
The book explores the six methods that form the essential basics of Passive House design:
- Draught-free construction.
- High-performance windows and doors.
- Heat recovery ventilation.
- Good building commissioning.
- Solutions for both hot and cold climates.
While the book does not provide a great deal of detail, Bere does set out the context and easy-to-understand basics for those who may not be familiar with the subject.
The second section asks ‘Why Passive House?’, and provides more technical information and discussion covering the renewable energy revolution, integrated design, and capital and whole life costs. Two shorter chapters provide robust primers on air quality and health, and the importance of skills.
The bulk of the book though is taken up with 15 case studies from around the world. These include a variety of different buildings other than houses, including an office, community centre and school, and emphasise the potential that following the Passive House Standard can have in delivering buildings of great architectural merit.
There are eye-catching photographs, details and diagrams throughout that make it a great book to flick through, while providing enough technical information to serve as a worthwhile and engaging introduction, and perhaps as inspiration, to both students and seasoned professionals.
For more information and to purchase the book, please see RIBA Bookshop.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Bill Gething and Katie Puckett - Design for Climate Change.
- BIM for Dummies - an interview.
- Biomimicry in Architecture - review.
- Charles Waldheim - Landscape as Urbanism: A General Theory.
- Fabric first.
- FutuREstorative - review.
- Green deal.
- Home Quality Mark.
- Owen Hatherley - Landscapes of Communism.
Featured articles and news
An Arc de Triomphe for the late-20th century, the La Grande Arche of Paris.
Richard Hayward of Legrand asks whether technology could help developers meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population.
Thomas Heatherwick's ambitious steel structure begins construction.
The principles, practice and formwork of one of the most important components of modern architecture.
New report claims that inappropriate standards and regulations are holding back the use of composites.
The global smart homes and smart light commercial market will grow fastest in the UK.
Have a look at our article explaining the different types of construction contractor.
Futurist Thomas Frey explores the concept of Disposable Housing - could it be a reality sooner than we imagine?
ICE to host new exhibition offering a window onto the civil engineering achievements beneath our feet.
Do you know all the various types of defects in brickwork?
US museum reveals plans for an installation made entirely of paper tubes.
Review of a book looking at how contemporary architecture found its expression within neoliberal capitalism.
The Great Mosque of Djenne, the largest mud-brick building in the world.
Amanda Clack, RICS President offers recommendations to government on Brexit and the construction skills shortage.